(written several days ago)
Today I was flooded with memories. And... today I realized the giant gaps with the things I've forgotten.
I parked in the parking lot of my primary school.... I was on my way to a funeral, and remembered vaguely in the corner of my mind that there was a back staircase from the school yard to the church.
I pulled into the yard and parked by an old cement retaining wall. The school is built on a hill, the yard at the bottom, one side of the yard is a steep embankment, tree roots the only thing keeping the neighbour's yards from tumbling down to the pavement below. In one or two places, at some point in time, someone decided to pour some cement to hold back the earth. When I was in grade three they were leaning... when I was there today they were leaning some more. The same foot path runs up beside them, up behind them and up to a big tree root, perfect for sitting on, and not too high that you might get in trouble for climbing the hill.
The school itself is built into the hill. To get to class, each grade had to line up, and class by class we were sent up the stairs. Of the two years I lined and waited at the bottom of the steps, then marched to the top... I can only remember one or two trips to the top... but running my hands along the railing, I could hear the conversations we'd had from countless others.
I looked back and pictured the bouncy balls and Frisbees that would collect on the roof, cleaned off for the summer.
I passed by the windows to one of my old class rooms... I can't remember what I learned there... but I remember the smell of the room, and the faded green feeling it had.
I climbed up past the school, and rounded my way to the church, I didn't remember the house being so close to the stairs, I couldn't remember a single instance of climbing the steps... but yet, I must have used it often, I instinctively lifted my foot a little higher on the last step, my mind remembering it's tendency to trip.
The church was smaller than I remembered, the paint new, the water damage gone, the frayed carpet replaced...
we sat, we stood, we sat, we stood, we kneeled, we stood, we sat. we sang songs tucked away in my memory, and the smell of incense filled the church. The service was beautiful.
Afterwards, I headed back down the stairs. More memories woke up, moments that had passed came back to life, games and gossip played out. Best friends were remembered and "life long" enemies were hated again... all in the few moments it took to get to my car.
I'm glad I parked in the school yard.